In 2018, more than 26.6 million Brits had a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). However, the latest NHS data obtained by travel insurance provider Insurancewith shows that the figure – including those covered by the post-Brexit EHIC replacement, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) – has fallen to just over 20 million.
The cards entitle travellers to emergency health care at the same cost as locals in 27 EU countries plus Switzerland. In many European countries, including Spain for example – the number one destination for British holidaymakers – emergency treatment is discounted or even free with an EHIC or GHIC. Having access to this type of protection is particularly important for those travelling abroad with a medical condition.
Insurancewith Founder Fiona Macrea said: “These health cards are particularly important for people with pre-existing medical conditions because they can contribute towards the cost of emergency medical treatment while in Europe.
“However, I would stress that EHIC or GHIC are not a replacement for travel insurance. For example, they won’t provide cover for the cost of flying you home in the event of a medical emergency (also known as repatriation costs).”
GHICs are free and can be obtained from the NHS on its website. EHICs that are still in date are valid, but are not available for renewal for Brits, as the country is no longer a part of the European Union (EU) – travellers will have to replace EHICs with GHICs.
The EHIC or GHIC reciprocal agreement also does not extended further than the EU, which means travellers visiting a destination outside of Europe would not be able to claim for any medical costs under the scheme and would need to rely on their travel insurance.